Diabetes cases soar to nearly three million

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Diabetes rates in the UK have soared to nearly three million with the numbers of those affected in Yorkshire up by more than 12,000 in a year, a leading charity is warning.

The number of people diagnosed with the disease has risen by nearly 130,000 to 2.9 million in the past year, said Diabetes UK.

There are now 50 per cent more Britons with diabetes than when GP data on the disease were first published in 2005 and the rise is mainly due to a surge in Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90 per cent of all cases and is most common in people who are overweight.

In Yorkshire, the numbers of people diagnosed increased to 248,877 in the year to March 2011, the charity says.

The Leeds Primary Care Trust area has the highest numbers of recorded patients over the age of 17 at 31,098, followed by North Yorkshire and York PCT, with 31,827, and Bradford and Airedale with 28,012.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The time for action is now. Whilst rates of other serious conditions including many cancers, heart disease and stroke are steady or declining, the epidemic of diabetes continues to grow at even faster rates.

“Simple things can make a huge impact. The vascular screening NHS Health Checks is critical in detecting early signs of Type 2 diabetes. Losing 10 per cent of your weight reduces your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by 50 per cent.”

“We must reverse this trend if more people are not going to suffer unnecessarily and if diabetes is not going to bankrupt the NHS. Around 10 per cent of NHS spending goes on diabetes and its complications; this equates to £9bn per year or £1m an hour.”

Diabetes UK is trying to make people aware of the lesser-known risk factors associated with the condition. These include having a large waist, irrespective of weight, being aged over 40, having relatives with the disease, or being from a black, Asian, or other minority ethnic community.

At-risk waist measurements are 37 inches or more for men, except those of South Asian origin for whom the threshold is 35 inches or more, and 31.5 inches or more for women.

Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, especially at night, increased thirst, extreme tiredness, unexplained weight loss, genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, slow healing of cuts and wounds, and blurred vision.

People with Type 2 diabetes may have the condition for up to 10 years without realising it.